Everyone has needs and wants within any type of relationship – from romantic partners to friends and family. When those needs aren’t met, we have a tendency to get frustrated and to want the other person to change to be more in line with our desires.
In any relationship, whether friends or family or significant others, there are going to be these behaviors, personality traits, and problem solving techniques that we’re going to see as flawed. They may even be things that are critical for us to feel happy or satisfied.
But our tendency to tell – maybe even fight – with our loved ones in order to get them to change these things belies a truth that many people forget in the heat of the moment: that we do not have the power to change other people. We only have the power to change ourselves.
Communication vs. Coercion
As sad, stressful, or challenging as it may be at times, we do not possess the power to make someone else different. We cannot force someone to be kinder, more affection, or a better communicator. We cannot make them be cleaner, or more organized, or more thoughtful.
That doesn’t mean we cannot express our concerns, of course. We can – and should – tell the other person about our feelings and what we could enjoy seeing from them. Communication is an important part of any relationship, and that includes sharing our feelings and experiences.
But we also need to accept that the choice and ability to make those changes is solely on the other person, and in some cases that person may be unable or even incapable of making these changes because of:
- Where they are in life.
- Who they are as a person.
- What they want to change about themselves.
No matter how hard we try or how strongly we believe they need to change, there is nothing we can do to make that happen. It’s important to accept that communication is important, but coercion is impossible.
We Can Change Ourselves
However, we do have control over one person: we have the ability to change ourselves. And while it is important that your needs are met, it is equally important that you’re making the changes you can according to what you need to make the relationship grow.
- The other person may have expressed needs that you’re not meeting.
- You may use a tone or style of argument that turns off the other person.
- There may be things that you need to learn to care “less” about.
Because these things are in your control, changing them can help you not only with how you are in your relationship, but also with the other person’s willingness and desire to reciprocate. Changing ourselves has real value for the relationship.
Couples Counseling on Long Island and Next Steps
There are sometimes changes that we “need” in our relationship – dealbreakers that are too important to ignore. There may also be difficulty with communicating your needs, or it may be hard to find yourself changing the way you want to. First, accepting that you are not in control of the other person, and that you can only control yourself, is important for growth.
But second, if you’re really having trouble, consider couples counseling and relationship therapy. It’s a useful and effective way to start communicating the changes you need to your partner, motivate them to make changes in themselves, and vice versa. Contact us today to get started.